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Ravens News 7/25: The specialists, RPO efficiency and more

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Marquise Brown and Michael Pierce Have Passed Their Conditioning Tests - Ryan Mink

Rookie first-round wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and defensive tackle Michael Pierce have both passed their conditioning tests.

Brown (foot) still needs to be cleared by team doctors before he can practice, meaning it appears he will not be on the field on the first day, but it is an indication that he’s getting close.

“Was I worried? No. I know he is a professional. Sometimes it gets away from you. It’s happened to me before, also. I’m not going to fault him for that,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said.

Ranking all 32 secondaries ahead of the 2019 NFL season - Pro Football Focus

Of all the positional unit rankings that we’ve put out in recent weeks on PFF.com, this is probably the one you want to be the highest on (not counting QBs). Having a good secondary we’ve found correlates more so than anything else to having a good defense in the NFL today. The passing game is king, and these are the teams best equipped to shut that down.

1. BALTIMORE RAVENS

CB Brandon Carr

CB Marlon Humphrey

CB Jimmy Smith

S Earl Thomas III

S Tony Jefferson

The Ravens were already a top-five secondary last season, and the rich got richer as they swapped out Eric Weddle for a future Hall of Famer. They’ll just need Earl Thomas to stay healthy as he’s earned coverage grades over 89.0 in five of his last six seasons.

AFC training camp battles to watch: Dolphins QB, Bills RB, more - Gregg Rosenthal

9) Baltimore Ravens outside linebackers: Tim Williams vs. Jaylon Ferguson vs. Tyus Bowser vs. Shane Ray vs. Pernell McPhee.

Outside linebacker in Baltimore’s system has a long tradition of getting guys paid, including Terrell Suggsthroughout his 16-year Ravens career. Suggs’ departure surprised the Ravens and the team failed in its bid to keep Za’Darius Smith from the Packers. That leaves Matt Judon as the only incumbent defensive coordinator Don Martindale can trust. Bowser (second-rounder) and Williams (third-rounder) have struggled to develop despite getting drafted pretty highly in 2017. New general manager Eric DeCosta took Ferguson in the third round of this year’s draft, then took fliers on Ray and McPhee, who once used this position as a stepping stone to his own big free-agent contract elsewhere. The sheer quantity of options here is a sign that the position is in unfamiliar territory.

Training Camp Position Breakdown: Specialists - Clifton Brown

Under the Radar

The goal for Vedvik is to kick well enough to earn a job someone else. Tucker isn’t going anywhere, but several NFL teams are searching for a reliable placekicker and might be interested in trading for Vedvik. Wil Lutz didn’t make the Ravens’ roster in 2016 but became the New Orleans Saints’ placekicker after Baltimore released him and has thrived. A strong-legged kicker from Norway, Vedvik could be the next young kicker developed by the Ravens to find a home elsewhere.

Play-Action Offense 2018 - Scott Spratt

There were 11 teams that owed at least 10 percent of their play-action passes to RPO passes in 2018. Andy Reid and his coaching tree -- which includes Matt Nagy in Chicago, Frank Reich in Indianapolis, Ron Rivera in Carolina, John Harbaugh in Baltimore, and Doug Pederson in Philadelphia -- make up about half of that list.

Meanwhile, the Ravens nearly doubled their percentage of RPO passes from 8.9 percent in the first half of the season with Joe Flacco under center to 16.1 percent in the second half with rookie Lamar Jackson at quarterback, and they added more than a yard per RPO pass to threaten the Buccaneers’ top spot.

The Panthers and Ravens were two of the four teams on the leaderboard that produced more yards per play with their RPO passes than on their traditional play-action passes.